The mass marketing model is outdated and digital technologies are helping power a direct-to-consumer future.
Whether you are a movie studio or a first time filmmaker; it makes sense to capture engagement with your movies and you should always think of marketing as a way to build upon your fan base.
It is never too early to start marketing a movie and the earlier you start, the more demand data you will build up and you will also win the SEO battle to drive organic traffic to your website.
However, there is a proverbial no man's land between the period when a distributor starts marketing their latest release and when cinemas schedule showtimes.
In practice if cinemas posted limited showtimes even one week earlier, it would enable a better marketing platform for distributors especially as reviews come out at least the weekend before when the movie is not on sale so marketing conversions are difficult. However, we digress.
The challenge during this pre-release period is to create content to engage fans to go from say social media to your promotional platform/website. There are some simple, cost effective techniques to help in this regard;
create a fun/engaging competition: movie fans love nothing more than attending premieres or preview screenings. A simple competition from social media or pre-release advertising to get fans to take part in a premiere tickets competition is a great way to promote the movie and build an audience database. Make sure you announce the winner when ticketing is live for your latest release and send a message to the people who are not winners with a link to purchase tickets in their local cinema. This is a great way to build your database and encourage fans to buy tickets so you don't waste marketing spend.
Movie quiz and games: every movie has a great hook to engage their potential fans whilst providing some entertainment and educating fans a little bit more about the movie. There are some great free and low cost tools like Qzzr to create quizzes and with a little effort you can create a viral event which brings fans to your website. At the end, it's a great opportunity to throw in a competition with 'a money-can't-buy' prize for one of the lucky entrants. It will drive traffic, build anticipation for the movie, is fun and social. Here are some ideas which work for most movies;
- movie theme related questions (how well do you know NFL history for a sports related movie)
- shoot location questions (which of these movies was not based in London)
- cast related questions (which of these movies did Tom Cruise also star in?)
- awards related questions (which of these movies also won the Palme D'or)
In the run up to the release or during the release itself, if you use the usheru ticketing service, we can help you build a fan base with every ticket purchase. There is no better way to build a major fan base.
And if the movie is a limited theatrical release; make sure you capture email addresses for fans where no local showtimes exist. We recommend you add a feature on your website for fans to 'Demand the movie' in their city. It can help you with a staggered international release to build a fan demand database and encourage sales agents to find distribution partners in new territories. If it never comes to a fan's country or city, the captured email address can be used to encourage a digital download at a later date.
Home entertainment release
Like a cinema release, get people to your site and any gamefication will help gather info from a fan base perspective. Also, you need to gather an email from a fan who demands your movie where a territory it is not available.
If Covid has taught us anything, it is that we have to be prepared to communicate with fans when there is no imminent release. There are plenty of ways to communicate with fans or gamefy communications with fans in between releases.
Competitions and quizzes: movie fans love any gamification so try create content to drive fans from social channels to your website perhaps based on your back catalogue. How well do these know films you have made. Can they guess the average IMDB rating for said movies (which they can find out how to stream on your movie pages)? Is there a national event you can create a quiz for with some movie related questions? i.e. On St Patrick's Day, show a picture from The Fugitive where Harrison Ford finds cover during the Chicago St Patrick's Day parage and ask what city it is.
Engaging and relevant content which is fun will drive traffic and grow your database. Always be thinking of content to grow engagement and the organic SEO bump will help when your latest release comes to the cinema. Creating unique content early in the release process will help search engines like Google index your content and will lead to increased organic traffic which will in turn lower your long term marketing costs and increase your ability to drive direct-to-consumer success